> C++ feels like a language developed without a road map.
Many of the warts are there due to the committee's very strong stance on requiring backward-compatibility. This does detract from the language sure, but the tradeoff is code that will continue to compile for many years which is important for huge codebases that want to continue to adopt the latest features.
Other languages tend to solve this with breaking-changes (python3, perl6, even java8 or ES* to some extent which arguably changed the whole paradigms of their languages).
Ultimately the roadmap is dictated by time-tested experience with existing features and what the community deems the most necessary and practical (see boost which is in many ways an incubator for language ideas).
Recent releases are explicitly around new roadmap items like better RAII-pointers and (finally) a standard threading API.
There are also new language-features that make the language easier (lambdas, more auto, etc) and faster (rvals/move operations). These are "optional" and can be ignored if you prefer.
> Just because ... C++ stops regularly blindsiding you does not mean it is a well designed language.
I'm still blind-sided when the compiler does crazy things I hadn't expected, but almost always I end up cursing the tooling not the language.
IMHO this is the fault of (1) the documentation being terse and separated from stdlib headers etc, (2) compilers/linkers being rather nasty and slow to work with, and (3) terrible error messages in general.
These are problems with the ecosystem and not so much with the language-proper. It's fair to say they sour the whole experience (and they really really do sour it), but the language itself is actually not that surprising once you get past the tooling.